As a mother it was suggested I should see and review The Good Enough Mums Club, a production which also asks you to take part in a questionnaire before and after the performance. In order to improve the health and wellbeing of children and parents in the inner London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth the musical has been awarded funding by the Design Council. Performances of this production will evaluate the support that could be offered to families.
Nobody prepares you for pregnancy, parenting and the task of raising the next generation. We all have our concerns and worries from the appearance of that first blue line on a white stick, through the next nine months, the labour ward, and then out into the world as a new mum. The cast of the musical are themselves all mothers and its co-creator (Emily Beecher) was inspired to write the piece after giving up her career as a producer to raise her own child and suffering severe postnatal depression.
We learn about the experiences of the five young mothers through their regular meetings at a mums’ and toddlers’ group in a local church hall. Perfect Pam (so confident and capable on the surface) hothouses her youngsters, but is unable to live up to the template of her own mother. The others, too, share the whole gamut of new motherhood worries, problems and insecurities: still wearing maternity jeans, falling pregnant again too soon, children who just will not sleep or behave, and the affliction of severe postnatal depression. The worst and most painful concern of all is Amy’s son who has a terminal disease and will not live to see his third birthday.
In a semi-staged reading the five women bring to the forefront exactly what life is like as a new mum. We share the highs and lows, chuckle and sympathise at the sleepless nights and demanding babies, explore the inanities of distracting a baby by waving keys in its face, recall the horrors of losing your child in a crowd and collude in the dispensing of teaspoons of Calpol.
Prostitution, we are often reminded, is the oldest profession, but motherhood is the oldest job for which nobody is every prepared. There is no course or teaching; you just have to pick it up as you go along. The five mums together share their emotions and experiences, fears, self-doubts and quests for approval, until finally Pam understands that perfection is not important. What matters is just to be good enough.
The Good Enough Mums Club is an ongoing project that will be performed in front of parents and healthcare practitioners. I hope it will be taken into schools too so that young girls may have some idea of what motherhood will be like. As the first of my friends to have a baby I wish a show like this one had been around for me, but it still doesn’t stop the angst and self-recriminations. I believe mothers are hard-wired to feel this way and that is why the support of others is so vital.